Paul J. Saunders


Executive Director, Center for the National Interest 

He is the Center’s Chief Operating Officer and directs its U.S.-Russian Relations Program in addition to leading projects on other issues, including energy and climate change and U.S.-Japan relations. He is also Associate Publisher of the foreign policy magazine “The National Interest”, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Energy Innovation Reform Project.

Paul Saunders served in the Bush Administration as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs (2003–2005). In that capacity, he worked on a broad range of transnational issues, in particular with respect to Russia, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union, as well as Iraq, China and India.

He has written extensively for major newspapers and journals, and is a frequent commentator in national media, including CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. Paul Saunders is the editor of Costs of a New Cold War: The U.S.-Russia Confrontation over Ukraine and Enduring Rivalry: American and Russian Perspectives on the Former Soviet Space and the author of works including Extended Deterrence in a Changing Asia; Russian Energy and European Security; and Russia and the Greater Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities (co-authored).


Donald Trump's Foreign Policy: Working with Russia from a Position of Strength
President Trump may be looking for “good deals” for the United States in working with Russia—meaning deals in which he believes that America gets what it wants and needs from Moscow at the lowest

Paul J. Saunders
The Way Forward in Syria May Not Be Quite So Simple
Russia’s successes in Syria so far produce not only advantages for its policy, but also some significant problems.  President Donald Trump’s deliberate unpredictability is a powerful asset

Paul J. Saunders
The Rise of Populist Political Candidates and Movements in the United States and…
The rise of populist political candidates and movements in the United States and some European countries has provoked many questions about democracy, its effectiveness as a governing model, and its

Paul J. Saunders
Where Will Escalation Over Syria Take Russia and the US?
The new situation destroys what was possibly the last avenue for Russia-US cooperation. US cannot launch missile strikes with impunity. Presumable Assad victory could lead to a displacement of
Tectonic Shifts in The Middle East, Or Are They Really?
Russia’s military operation in Syria—and America’s restraint there—has catalyzed discussion and debate about possible strategic realignments in the Middle East, generating excitement in Moscow about

Paul J. Saunders
Russia-NATO: A Classic Security Dilemma
NATO’s new troop deployments near Russia aim to create a “tripwire” deterrent to reassure the Baltic States, but at the same time create a security dilemma, as Russia feels pressured to do the same,

Paul J. Saunders
G7 Summit in Japan: No Historic Highs
The G7 has yet to redefine its purpose and role following Russia’s exclusion. Reinvigorating it will require leadership, creativity, and a degree of reflection.

Paul J. Saunders
Syria: U.S.-Russian Tepid War
Syria appears unlikely to serve as a vehicle to improve the wider U.S.-Russia relationship in any sustainable way. A U.S.-Russian Tepid War can still lead to plenty of collateral damage.

Paul J. Saunders
What Russian Pullout Could Mean for Syrian Peace Process
On Monday, President Putin said that Russia would begin to withdraw its forces from Syria on March 15.

Paul J. Saunders
Agreement on Syria Gives an Opportunity and a Little Time to Move Forward
Agreement between Russia and the US on the cessation of hostilities in Syria gives opportunity and a little bit of time to move forward

Paul J. Saunders
Valdai Paper #12: U.S. Foreign Policy After the November 2014 Elections
The 12th Valdai paper explores possible consequences in foreign policy course caused by change of political balance after the 2014 mid-term elections.

Paul J. Saunders


US-Russian Cooperation on Syria and Iran
Paul J. Saunders, Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest and a member of the Center’s Board of Directors, is reasoning about US-Russian cooperation on Syria and Iran. To his mind,



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